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What is Bruxism?

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What is Bruxism?

Bruxism, otherwise known as teeth clenching or grinding, is an everyday activity that can occur during the day or night. If bruxism happens when you are awake, it is commonly triggered by stress, anger, or even high concentration. What makes it devastating is that it mostly occurs when you are not even aware of it. In other words, most patients learn about this involuntary issue through their dentist or through a sleep study. 

For this reason, routine dental exams are essential for detecting issues early on. Worn teeth are a common sign of bruxism which is identified by a dentist. Fortunately, there are solutions that your dentist can recommend such as a night guard or an orthotic device, whichever is most appropriate depending on an individual patient’s muscle symptoms.

What Causes Sleep Bruxism?

Bruxism is commonly associated with several factors including anxiety, smoking, daytime stress, loud snoring, caffeine, certain antidepressant drugs, heavy alcohol use, and obstructive sleep apnea. In addition, it can happen as a result of an increased heart rate and brain activity. There are a number of patients that grind their teeth or clench and are unaware. As a result, proper diagnosis and treatment are important to maintain good oral health and improve quality of life.

How Is It Diagnosed?

Diagnosing bruxism begins with a thorough examination and medical history review. The dentist will want to know of any fatigue or jaw discomfort upon awakening as well as any enlarged jaw muscles and tooth wear. These are all associated with sleep bruxism, and they may be an indicator of the problem. Also, if you often experience teeth sensitivity without explanation, it might be a symptom of sleep bruxism. Other symptoms such as headaches, excessive fatigue, and sleep apnea may be related to bruxism as well.

How is it Treated?

If a patient has daytime bruxism, behavioral modification and an orthotic device are often recommended. For example, if it is caused by stress, the patient should practice de-stressing techniques and use their orthotic device to protect their teeth.

Likewise, sleep bruxism treatment includes wearing a night guard or an orthotic device. Although sleep bruxism is involuntary, learning why the patient is grinding their teeth or clenching is important. In other words, the orthotic device should be used along with other medical recommendations such as a healthier diet, improved sleeping habits, quitting smoking and alcohol consumption. Nonetheless, every patient is different which is why treatment will vary and proper diagnosis is needed.

Learn More

Protecting your oral health is very important. Contact My McLean Dentist to receive a customized dental treatment plan. We offer a number of dental services to assist patients of all ages. Services include general and cosmetic dentistry. In addition, orthotic devices are offered to assist patients with TMD and bruxism. Learn more with an exam and consultation today. New and existing patients may call 703-356-4822 or easily book an appointment online here. Additionally, you may contact us with any questions or concerns. Our team is always eager to assist. We look forward to meeting you!

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